Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On the Move Versus Stationary

Motion is an element of vision.

I'm sure that the experts in ophthalmology — Is that the field? Ophthalmology? — know all about it.

Maybe I should Wikipedia ophthalmology. Later. If I'm still interested.

Anyway, I noticed the motion-vision phenomena years ago, as a boy riding through Yellowstone with my parents, looking for black bears and grizzlies out the windows of the car. The bears were always easier to spot if they were on the move, lumbering through the woods, running full bore up the hill. I can't tell you how many bears I spotted from far off on that trip to Yellowstone only to realize they weren't bears at all, but rocks, logs, bushes or some combination of various natural flora or geography. Yet, if the bear that I thought I saw was on the move, I almost always got it right. No rocks, logs, bushes or combinations of things ended up on that list.

How does this come up? On the dog walk today, Asia saw something from afar. I did too. In fact, I think I saw it first, long before Asia did. She was dithering with the grass, sniffing or peeing or whatever.

I couldn't tell exactly what it was when I first saw it. It looked like a dog, a smaller one, a middle sized poodle or so, but I wasn't sure. It was oddly colored — pinkish, as I recall — for a dog. But, who knows these days? Crazy people die their dogs all different kinds of colors, I guess.

We walked on. The distant 'dog' or whatever it was didn't move. It stayed stationary, like it was glued to the ground. Within a few steps of my sighting of it, Asia caught sight of it. She didn't abandon her usual exploits, sniffing and dodging here and there, checking things out as she went, but she definitely kept whatever it was in mind while veering and pulling in that direction anytime she thought I might take her an opposite one.

The closer I got, the better I could see it. Pretty soon, I knew what it was. It was a child's toy on wheels that looked like a dog or some creature like a dog. As soon as I knew what it was I quit focusing on yet and began watching Asia closer.

The closer Asia got to the toy, the more wary of it she became. She didn't want to approach it too fast, I guess. She wasn't anxious to hurry up to it in case it was ready to slash into her eyes with its claws, lift its tail and spray, or something gruesome. To Asia, it was a living thing, frozen from motion, waiting to attack, or to flee, but to flee only if it was absolutely necessary. Asia veered away from it, but when she saw we were so close and it was not doing anything, not fleeing, not attacking, decided to walk over and sniff it, which she did.

And then she was off.

As a man, a straight man, what have I missed through the years relative to my privilege as a man over against what women have? In particular, within my culture and religion, how do those questions play out?

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